Another shark attack at Vandenberg AFB

A shark attack Friday at Vandenberg Air Force Base, north of Santa Barbara, prompted the closure of three beaches on the military base until Sunday evening.

Details are scant but a statement posted Friday on the Vandenberg Air Force Base website states that the attack, which occurred a quarter-mile north of Wall Beach, was not fatal.  There were unconfirmed reports that kayakers were attacked by two sharks on Friday, including one that measured nearly 20 feet.


Generic great white shark image is courtesy of Martin Graf/Shark Diver

Area surfers might note that this marks at least the third October attack on Vandenberg Air Force Base beaches since 2010. (The public is allowed on VAFB beaches.)

The 2010 attack occurred on October 22 and claimed the life of Lucas McKain Ransom, 19, a student at the University of California at Santa Barbara. Ransom was bodyboarding with a friend at Surf Beach when he was bitten on the leg by a great white shark estimated to measure 14-plus feet.

The 2012 attack occurred on October 23 and claimed the life of Francisco Javier Solorio, 39, who was surfing with friends when he was bitten.

Solorio was helped ashore and attempts were made to revive the surfer, but paramedics arrived to find him dead at the scene.

Vandenberg Air Force Base is located in Santa Barbara County, about 130 miles north of Los Angeles.

On Friday the base posted this statement on its website homepage:

10/3/2014 – VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. — Surf, Wall, and Minuteman beaches are closed until Oct. 5, at 4 p.m. due to a confirmed shark attack one-quarter mile North of Wall Beach. The attack wasn’t fatal. Officials at Vandenberg Air Force Base are requesting the public avoid VAFB beaches due to safety considerations until 4 p.m. Oct. 5.

It's unclear why October seems to be a particularly dangerous month along the stretch of coast on Vandenberg property.

However, this is the time of year that adult great white sharks begin arriving along the coast after spending months offshore.

White sharks typically feed on seals and sea lions, and scientists believe that surfers who are attacked by the ambush predators are mistaken as pinnipeds.

Most attacks on surfers involve only a single bite, helping to support this theory.

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